Stephen Colbert gave Oliver Stone a very public lesson in Interviewing 101 during his 12 June Monday episode of the Late Show. The Snowden director was in the hot seat as he spoke about his latest documentary film The Putin Interviews.
Based on 20-hours worth of conversation with the Russian president, the Showtime series was expected to offer a direct dissection into claims of Russia's involvement in the US presidential elections and American domestic matters. However, Stone's interview fell short of the jab that audiences were hoping to witness, with critics calling it "fawning" and teasing him of having a "weak spot" for Putin.
"You've gotten a little heat," Colbert said, cutting to the chase right at the start. "People have said you're being too cosy with him, that you believe him too easily. What do you say to people who say this is a fawning interview of a brutal dictator?"
"You know, you have to be polite, because it was a two-year deal," Stone responded. "He has a busy schedule. He works 12-hour days for almost 16 years now. So, you know, it's politeness, and it's curiosity, and it's the way you ask the questions."
The host then referred to a clip from the documentary that was screened during the show in which Putin claimed his country would never interfere in another country's domestic affairs. Stone's response was to simply thank the president for his answer without any follow-up questions.
"But no follow up on that question?" Colbert asked. "That doesn't seem like an interview, that seems like an opportunity for him to merely propagandize."
Attempting to defend his work, Stone explained that the rest of the series would reveal more hard-hitting subjects including those regarding hacking.
As if Colbert had not already pushed him into a corner, the director's personal opinion about Putin had the audience reacting audibly as well.
"I think he's devoted to his country and I'm amazed at his calmness, his courtesy — he never really said anything bad about anybody and, I mean, he's been through a lot. He's been insulted and abused." the JFK filmmaker mentioned to a round of incredulous laughs and booing from the audience. He then clarified that he meant abused by the press, which also did not resonated well with the crowd.
Colbert then asked if Stone found anything negative about the Russian leader. "Or does he have your dog in a cage someplace?"
Watch Stephen Colbert's Late Show segment with Oliver Stone below: